Senate survey offers better picture of diversity among Chamber staff

Good to see these data collection efforts and their sharing despite their limitations:

New numbers suggest the Senate’s hiring of women, Indigenous people, and visible minorities is on par with each group’s availability in the workforce, but behind on employing those with disabilities.

An estimated 2.6 per cent of Senate staff are people with disabilities, though they represent 4.4 per cent of the available workforce, according to new data collected from some Senate staff.

At the June 6 Senate Internal Economy, Budgets, and Administration meeting Diane McCullagh, the Senate’s chief human resources officer, reported on her office’s efforts to get better statistics through a voluntary survey of staff in both the administration and Senators’ offices. Because it’s an opt-in survey, the Senate doesn’t have diversity data on all its staff.

The latest push brought in 266 responses, Ms. McCullagh said, and pooled with past efforts, the Senate now has information for 596 people. That represents 81.5 per cent of the 731 employees at the time of the survey, conducted between March 29 and April 26.

Three per cent of Senate staff recorded identify as Indigenous, compared to an estimated 3.4 per cent workforce availability, Ms. McCullagh told Senators. Similarly, among visible minorities, the Senate is a few points off, hiring 12.45 per cent, compared to an estimated workforce availability of 13 per cent. Women represented 60 per cent of those surveyed, well above the 52.5 per cent workforce availability.

Where the Senate is falling behind, it isn’t far, said Ms. McCullagh, but the Senate has “work to do” to hire more people with disabilities.

Breakdown of diversity for staff in the House of Commons, Senate, and public service, according to 2018 data reported by each body. Graph created with Infogram

Ms. McCullagh acknowledged the limitations in the data, noting people are “still fearful” of singling themselves out. But the numbers can still help establish “benchmarks against which we can measure our progress going forward,” she said.

The search for better statistics emerged following a June 2018 report, Diversity in the Senate: From Aspiration to Action, from Internal Economy’s Subcommittee on Diversity.

The new data shows a shift from the 2016 numbers the committee studied, though that report only looked at the Senate’s employees, and didn’t include staff working in Senators’ offices. As of March 2016, among the 354 employees, women represented 59 per cent, visible minorities 15.3 per cent, people with disabilities 5.6 per cent, and Aboriginal people 3.4 per cent.

The new data puts the Senate behind the core public services in all areas, except hiring women, and ahead of the House of Commons only in its hiring of women and Indigenous people.

Of the 192,467 that made up the core public service as of March 31, 2018, women represented 54.8 per cent, according to the most recent report on employment equity. That’s slightly up from the estimated workforce availability of 52.5 per cent for the same year. Indigenous people represented 5.1 per cent of the public service (compared to 3.4 per cent workforce availability), people with disabilities accounted for 5.3 per cent (compared to 4.4 per cent), and visible minorities were 15.7 per cent (compared to 13 per cent workforce availability).

In the House of Commons, as of June 2018, 48 per cent of the House administration’s 2,479 employees were women, two per cent were Aboriginal persons, 13 per cent were visible minorities (up from 10 per cent the previous year), and three per cent were people with disabilities (down from two per cent in 2017).

Senators also asked Ms. McCullagh’s team to start tracking regional representation among staff, and while she didn’t have that data, she said the Senate has a wider reach than it has in the past.

Source: Senate survey offers better picture of diversity among Chamber staff

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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